Monday, October 26, 2009


The French pianist/composer, Jacques Loussier, was born on October 26,1934 in Angers, France, and started playing piano at the age of 10 and quickly demonstrated tremendous ability.

When Loussier was just 16, he entered the Conservatoire Nationale de Musique in Paris where he studied with Professor Yves Nat whose youthful compositions were praised by Fauré, Camille Saint-Saens and and Debussy, and whose prodigious gifts as a pianist were encouraged by Debussy.

Continuing this distinguished lineage, Loussier was to become one of Nat’s most accomplished pupils, heading the conservatory’s piano class of over five hundred students.In the late 1950's Jacques Loussier left the Conservatoire to commence a freelance career that included travels to South America and the Middle East as well as work as accompanist for Catherine Sauvage and Charles Aznavour.

In 1959, Loussier hit upon the idea that was to make his international reputation, combining his interest in jazz with his love of J.S. Bach. Only a pianist with such an exceptional classical technique and deft improvisatory skill could have nurtured such a vision. He founded the Play Bach Trio, which used Bach’s compositions as the basis for jazz improvisation. The trio immediately caught the public imagination. In their live appearances, tours and concerts, plus a succession of recordings built on the cornerstone of four albums made for Decca between 1960 and 1963, Loussier’s group achieved a breakthrough to popular commercial success enjoyed by only a select few jazz musicians.

In 15 years, the trio sold over six million albums.During its heyday, the trio broadened the range of its experiments with Jacques Loussier double tracking some pieces on organ and piano and, later, recording some of his arrangements of Bach’s concerti with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. However, after years on the road, like many popular commercial groups, the original trio reached the end of its natural life in 1978.

In 1980, Loussier retired to his home in Provence to compose, research and record. He had already dabbled in film and ballet composition, and had established his own recording studio at Miraval, not far from Nice, where in addition to composing his own pieces for acoustic and electronic instruments, he played host to many recording stars of the rock world including Pink Floyd, Elton John, Sting and Yes. In fact, segments of Pink Floyd’s The Wall were recorded at Loussier’s studio. Loussier's own music in the 1980's explored the integration of new technology with conventional instruments, just as his 1950's experiments explored the ground between jazz and classics.

He produced suites for piano, synthesizers, percussion and bass, and some rock-jazz-classical fusion works including Pulsions, Pagan Moon and Fusions Sous La Mer.The tercentenary of Bach’s birth in 1985 coaxed Jacques Loussier back to the trio format, and he re-formed the Play Bach Trio with two new partners. He feels his new trio has far more stylistic range than its predecessor, and whereas that was a pioneer group, the latter-day trio combines jazz, rock and contemporary classical ideas with a mix of jazz and Bach.

Loussier plays Bach with a jazzy flavor.

Blogger's recommendation: Please, listen to the CD "Conference de Presse" recorded by Loussier together with the late great jazz pianist Michel Petruccianni. A master piece.

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